Violin Practice Tips to Stay Motivated and Improve Fast | Violin Lounge TV #296

by | Jan 30, 2019 | Practice Tips | 6 comments

In this video I share tips about productive and consistent violin practice

The technique of practicing is more important than the practicing of technique

In this episode op Violin Lounge TV I answer a question from Lisa. She asks: “How do I stay motivated to keep practicing? Any tips for productive and consistent practice sessions?”

I love the following quote:

“If you’re interested, you’ll do what’s convenient and you will find an excuse. If you’re committed, you’ll find a way.”

Every day you can find maybe fifteen or ten minutes to practice

To learn to play the violin beautifully, the most important thing is to practice consistently, to practice daily. In the long run, what really matters, is that when you’ve had a long day of work, you’ve had traffic or maybe you’ve felt a little ill, you practiced anyway. Those days really matter: the days that you don’t feel like practicing, but you do it anyway.

Or the days that you have a lot of obligations and you just say ‘no’ because the violin is important for expressing yourself through music, which makes the world a better place. You’re not only doing it for yourself. So, start to say ‘no’ and practice the violin on all the days that you don’t feel like it.

This consistent practice will bring you to where you want to be, wherever that is. Whether you want to give concerts or just want to express yourself on your instrument at home. Know that it is important and know that if you really stay on your game, you’ll eventually get the results.

I firmly believe that learning to play the violin beautifully is a learnable skill and that everybody can do it

I own a violin school and violin shop for over ten years now, so I’ve seen thousands of violinists.

I have never seen someone who practiced consistently but didn’t get the results

Maybe they don’t play Paganini concerto’s or whatever, maybe they don’t become a world-famous soloist, most of us don’t, but I have never seen someone who didn’t learn everything while she or he was doing everything to get there. Keep that in mind.

In your practice session, be really clear on what you’re doing and why

Don’t practice on auto pilot because that won’t help you. It doesn’t matter how many hours you’re practicing. What matters most is that you practice daily and that you practice with a goal. Try to be your own teacher and correct yourself all the time. It’s a fun way of practicing because you’re analyzing what goes wrong and how you can solve it. You’re creatively trying to solve the problems you encounter and on top of that you’re getting results, so you stay motivated.

What I see in violin players, and I see a lot of violin players in my daily work, is that they are either on this train of practicing a lot, playing together with others, getting motivated, playing the music they love.

Or they are not really feeling like practicing, their violin is in its case for a couple of days and when they pick it up nothing works, and they are not really getting somewhere. After some months they don’t notice any progress because they haven’t practiced enough, or mindlessly. Those are the people that eventually stop playing or they play from time, but they aren’t satisfied, and the violin becomes more of a frustration than a joy to them.

 

Practice slowly, be your own teacher and practice daily!

Then, if you are practicing technical stuff like scales and etudes, match them to the piece that you play

For example, this year I want to be able to play the fifth caprice by Paganini very well. Because of that I play Sevcik exercises to improve my bowing technique and of course I will practice saltato. I am not going to practice all sorts of techniques that I’m currently not using in my repertoire.

Of course, you must always try to improve everything in your violin playing, but your practice must be deliberate. When you practice a scale, you want to improve your intonation in a certain scale. So, let that match to the piece that you play. If you play a piece in D-minor, play a D-minor scale and don’t just mindlessly play scale after scale in completely different keys. Of course you can practice those scales, but also practice the scale that you’re using for your repertoire to support that.

That way you actually get results from all those “boring” technical exercises, the pieces you play will get easier and you’ll become more motivated to keep on doing the technical exercises

Everything must have a purpose, and everything must be connected to each other.

Etudes are made to teach you something specific

If you’re looking for an etude, look for one in which you can find a technique that you struggle with in the pieces that you play. If you struggle with a spiccato passage, then do your scales in spiccato and search for an etude with spiccato in it. If you play a piece with a lot of double stops, play a scale in double stops or find an etude in which you can practice double stops.

I hope this is a clear answer to your question, Lisa, and to all of you I would like to hear if you have any further questions on this topic. Just let me know in the comments below. If this episode of Violin Lounge TV is useful to you, leave a comment on what tip helped you the most.

6 Comments

  1. John Norton

    Hi Zlata, Your video “How to practice” (and stay motivated) is one of your many excellent performances. It makes me think of a remark I made many years ago and has stuck with me: “There simply isn’t time for anything, unless you make time for it.” So my dear friend, once we decide something is important for us, we also have to maintain its importance and find at least some time, 10 or 15 minutes a day as you mentioned, and that is in addition to the time to remove the instrument from the case, tighten the bow hair and rosin it, then tune the violin, set up the music or other study material on the stand, and then practice. This daily consistency becomes a (good) habit that will soon become self-perpetuating and we find that when we miss a day we feel that we have really missed something important in our lives. No, I won’t tell you how many years ago I made that remark concerning time as likely it was before you were born. But I thank you for reminding me of it. Oh! And don’t forget to put the violin and loosened bow back into the case – if we can bring ourselves to stop enjoying our time with them. Sometimes we think it would be easier to just hang the violin and bow on the wall for instant access 😉 I love your videos, you always have something interesting and very useful for us to enjoy.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Thanks so much for your kind words again, John! Yes, we all have 24 hours a day and time can definitely be made. In my violin shop I have my violin on a stand, so I can play in between client appointments. All those little moments add up, but of course I prefer long practice session in which you can be in another world.

      Reply
  2. Pastor Paul Sims (Alabama, USA)

    I am impressed with your teaching techniques and wish I had the money to let you teach me how to play!! I enjoy watching you and listening to your beautiful music. I am a 73 year old veteran and don’t make much money, so I built a violin and a friend gave me a bow that he had before he died and that is how I am playing my violin. I hope someday to play “A Sad Romance” as well as you!! I think that is a most beautiful tune.

    I have learned some things from your you tube videos and I feel like I am stealing from You , but I know our Father in heaven gave You a gift of playing and teaching and He is providing financially for You and one day I think He will bless me with enough money to send to You a financial gift for what I have learned from your free videos !

    In Christ and Christian Blessings
    Pastor Paul Sims

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Thanks so much for your kind words, pastor Paul! My reward for the hundreds of free lessons are the beautiful thankful comments I get from players. Those really keep me going. It’s very fulfilling for me that I can reach so many people around the world and help them with my violin playing. Blessings to you!

      Reply
  3. William Abraham

    I love the advice about practicing every day, if only for 10 or 15 minutes. I work during the week and am often very tired when I get home. If I don’t think I can spend an hour practicing, then I don’t practice. But this tip encouraged me to do it every day, even if only briefly. Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Great, William, for my private students the trick of ’10 minutes a day’ works good. When you got that daily routine, it’s quite easy to turn it into 20 minutes a day… or you just enjoy playing, gain new energy and forget the time.

      Reply

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